Palermo's Chilean striker takes one of a host of chances but his goal proves crucial...Palermo defeated mid-table rivals Genoa 1-0 in a hard-fought clash in the Stadio Renzo Barbera this evening.
A solitary strike from Mauricio Pinilla just before half-time was enough to give his side victory and restore the Sicilian's flagging Champions League hopes.
The away side fired an early warning shot across Palermo bows when Rafinha drove forward and crashed a shot wide of the upright with barely 30 seconds on the clock.
Genoa continued to force the play in the opening stages and ex-Palermo man Luca Toni, who was booed remorselessly throughout by the home fans, wrong-footed Salvatore Sirigu with a deflected strike, but the goalkeeper scrambled back across goal to make the stop.
Palermo then took control from then on in and Pinilla could, and maybe should, have had as many as five goals before finally opening the scoring.
First, he met Mattia Cassani’s low cross with a first time effort which Eduardo did superbly well to touch onto the post.
He then passed up a glorious one-on-one chance in the 19th minute when he raced onto Javier Pastore’s slide rule pass and attempted to drag the ball around Eduardo. The Genoa stopper read the move and threw out a hand to deny Palermo’s diminutive Chilean.
Amazingly, it was Pinilla who glanced Pastore’s inviting cross down into the ground and against the post five minutes later.
Toni had a couple of efforts well saved by Sirigu as the Rossoblu attempted to force their way back into the game.
But it wasn’t long before we were back with Pinilla and another missed opportunity. This time the 26-year-old darted to the front post to connect with Josip ilicic’s cut back, but put the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
In the 41st minute, he contrived to head a Cassani cross straight into Eduardo’s hands, and then demonstrated his deep frustration by karate kicking the upright.
However, that tension was completely released when he broke the deadlock less than 60 seconds later. Pinilla darted on to Pastore’s delightful flick and made no mistake at the sixth time of asking, curling the ball beyond Eduardo to make it 1-0.
Rossoblu coach Gian Piero Gasperini decided that alterations were required to change the pattern of play and break Palermo’s stranglehold on the game.
At half-time he replaced Rudolf Gergely with Miguel Veloso, and then threw on young forwards Richmond Boakye and Mattia Destro in the 65th minute.
The changes had the desired effect and Genoa began to assert themselves. However, for all their possession, they struggled to create any chances of note.
Giandomenico Mesto and Domenico Criscito were both off target with powerful efforts mid-way through the half, but it wasn’t until the 80th minute that they manufactured a proper shot on target.
A neat move in and around the edge of the box ended with Toni shifting the ball out from his body to take a shot at goal, but Veloso snatched the chance away and side-footed a weak effort of his own straight at Sirigu.
Boakye had a glorious chance to grab a point in the fourth minute of stoppage time but the 17-year-old Ghanaian's age was all too evident as he failed to compose himself and screwed his shot wide.
With that went Genoa’s final chance of the match and Palermo held out for a deserved 1-0 win.
On Wednesday, Genoa welcome Bologna to the Luigi Ferraris and will be in desperate need of all three points, while Palermo make the mammoth journey north to face Milan in the Giuseppe Meazza.